California’s department of education recommended recently that schools plan to move to distance learning formats for the remainder of the school year (see the link to a news article below). What does this mean for your child with special needs? Honestly, it’s hard to tell. Nothing like this has ever happened before! School districts usually have a system in place for students with special needs who need a home/hospital placement, but it’s never been used as a large-scale service. As schools begin to figure out the legal, technological, and curriculum issues they currently face, I highly recommend asking for a virtual IEP meeting to discuss what distance learning will look like for your child. The law is still unclear as to what districts are required to do regarding IEP meetings and timelines, but it can’t hurt to ask!
Some of the questions I would mention to your child’s IEP team are: Will they receive services like Speech Therapy and Occupational Therapy via teleconference? Will they get an opportunity to participate somehow with general education peers? How much work is expected of you, the parent, to make all of this happen? Be honest with the IEP team if you don’t think you will be able to facilitate as much learning as they expect. They may have other suggestions like compensatory education over the summer (if schools reopen by then).
It is also a good idea to keep a log of which services your child receives, which services they don’t receive, and what districts have said regarding each service. This log will come in handy when schools begin to look at compensatory education after our shelter in place orders have lifted. It’s important to remember that educators are doing the best they can to figure out the answers to our questions in an incredibly short period of time. Most children in both general and special education will (unfortunately) make less progress this year than in previous years, but with good communication and an open mind, we can help make this transition a little easier for everyone.
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News article from CBS: